Friday, April 29, 2016

International Antarctic Centre

With this trip and the time we spent in Brazil eight years ago, we have visited six of the seven continents. We don't currently have any plans to visit Antarctica, but we found a way to have a somewhat simulated experience here in New Zealand, at the International Antarctic Centre. We got to take a ride on a Hagglund, experience the wind and cold of a mild antarctic storm, love on some huskies, watch the feeding of the Little Blue Penguins, view a 4D movie, and learn about some of the scientific work and living conditions at some of the bases in Antarctica. It was such a fun experience, and it will definitely stand in nicely until such a time as we become brave or crazy enough to venture to the last continent on our list.

The Hagglund was originally developed as a Swedish military vehicle
but is well situated for the rugged and frozen terrain in Antarctica and has
become the vehicle of choice on that frozen continent.

Buckled up and holding on for the wild ride

We had a lot of laughs as we bumped along through the Hagglund course

Perhaps the centre is looking for a new Hagglund driver

The Antarctic Challenge:
Who can leave their hand in the icy water for a whole minute?

Bundled up against the imminent storm

Clay was eager to take shelter in the igloo before the storm hit

Conditions in the storm room during the peak of the man-made storm
(It is my understanding that this represents a pretty mild storm,
and I'm absolutely certain I don't want to experience a real one!)

It was hard to tell Clay and the Emperor Penguin apart

The Penguinery with rescued Little Blue Penguins, who are natives of NZ

Watching a video in the penguin playroom

Arya was so sweet, and the kids loved loving on her and her pack

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sydney Sightseeing

Today was our last full day in Sydney, in fact, our last full day in Australia, as tomorrow we are off to New Zealand. The weather turned out gorgeous, and we went out exploring. We finally made it over to Sydney Harbor to see the most iconic of Sydney's structures: The Opera House. We also took the ferry out to Manly, where we enjoyed watching the surfers, soaking up the beautiful day, and eating some surprisingly delicious and authentic Mexican food. Once we were back in Sydney proper, we headed over to the Royal Botanic Gardens for a nice little walk around before dark. It was a perfect day!

The Sydney Opera House

Proof that we were here

We caught a glimpse of Luna Park on the ferry ride

Manly Beach, indeed

Surfers at Manly Beach

Too Cool

Soaking up some Vitamin D on Manly Beach

The Royal Botanic Garden

We got to see some of the deconstruction of an elaborate opera set

Ft. Denison

A beautiful tree at Mrs. Macquaries Point

Sydney Harbor

Monday, April 25, 2016


Today is ANZAC Day in Australia, which is similar to the Veteran's Day in the U.S. The parades began at 3:30 am, right outside our hotel, and continued all day long. We did not make it down for the any of the early morning parades, but when we were finally ready to leave the hotel, we came out to street level just as a bagpipe band was making it's way up the street. We spent most of the rest of this gorgeous day at a wonderful playground in Darling Quarter, near Darling Harbor, playing with all the children in the area who were enjoying one last day of school holidays. When we were ready to leave, we stopped by a hilarious art exhibition, depicting real signage from around the world, along with some side-splitting commentary.  We ended up having dinner at a place on Darling Harbor, where we enjoyed sitting outside, taking in the loveliness of the harbor after dark, and eating some truly delicious food, including kangaroo steak. After diner, we slipped over to the Lindt Cafe for a divine salted caramel milkshake.

ANZAC Day Parade

Up and up and up

A tangled web

If you ever want to know where this one is, just look up!

We spent at least half an hour chuckling out loud while reading these
(and many other) signs and the accompanying commentary,
which I realize is probably too small for you to enjoy.
But, trust me, it's comedy gold!

Beautiful Darling Harbor

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Maritime Museum

We spent the day at the the Australian National Maritime Museum, and we had a great time learning about pirates and exploring a variety of seagoing vessels in Darling Harbor.  For dinner, we finally made it to a conveyor belt sushi place, where we had a ball selecting random dishes to try. It was a such a fun day!

Darling Harbor


A replica of Captain Cook's Endeavour

Captain Max and his first mate

It's a pirate's life for me!


Captain Sweetcheeks

The sonar crew on the submarine

Pirate attack!

Fighting back

Conveyor belt sushi

Friday, April 22, 2016

Down Under

Internet has been rather elusive for us in OZ, but good times have been easy to come by. Since leaving Hamilton Island almost a week ago, we have been making our way down the east coast, staying in very large houses, in very small towns, in some incredibly scenic locations. We have spent some time sightseeing and some time just lounging around wherever we happen to be calling home. We even got to spend a lovely day with one of my friends from high school and her family as we made our way to Sydney today. We really love Australia and can't believe our time here is almost at an end. 

Our lovely and enormous house and yard in Charlotte Bay

The kids would have been happy with just a yard,
but the trampoline was definitely the icing on the cake!

The Cartwheel King

We took a wonderful little hike up to the Sugarloaf Lighthouse

Redneck Port

This little guy was showing off for us at the Blackbutt Reserve in Newcastle

So excited to pet the bearded dragon

New friends and new foods

This goanna lizard is not a permanent resident at the wildlife reserve
but just moseyed in looking for a snack and caused quite a stir. 

The ANZAC walk on ANZAC weekend
(ANZAC Day is similar to our Veteran's Day and will be celebrated in OZ on Monday)

Enjoying the beautiful day and trying not to blow away

Such a fun reunion with a friend I've known since
9th grade and haven't seen in ten years

We were thrilled to see a pod of dolphins as we walked along the coast

The Merewether Ocean Baths

So much fun exploring the rock pools